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How Do Cats Use Their Tails?

Updated: August 11, 2022 by Kristen Chapple

Cats and their tails are often a funny combination for the human observer who can’t really understand what those tails are there for, what purpose do they serve and why. We’re sure you’ve wondered that before and not only once. Let’s go on and see how do cats use their tails.

As mammals who never had a tail, for us it’s something that seems to have no useful purpose whatsoever, but you can bet that your furry little friend has a different opinion on the matter. If only he could talk about the use of his tail.

How Do Cats Use Their Tails

Fortunately, there are curious wacky scientists out there who’ve wondered about the purpose of the tails of these fellow pet friends of ours and their studies can shine a light on this matter.

There are a variety of purposes a tail has for most animals in the wild, and cats – even the domestic ones – don’t make an exception.

For Balance

One of the main roles of a cat’s tail is balance. Felines in general have this extremely good balance ability and their tail plays an important role.

The tail is an extension of the cat’s spine, which gives them more control over their bodies while hunting, running, jumping, landing or walking on narrow surfaces, as you might often see them doing. You’ve probably wondered how could they possibly walk so relaxed and gracefully on that tiny fence outside your house or on the edge of the roof. The secret lies in their tails.

The tail acts as a counterweight for the cat. For example when a cat is running, the tail allows her stand straight and keep her balance in sharp turns. In addition to that, when jumping or landing, the tail helps with mid air turning and balancing of the cat’s body.

For Social Signals

One other important role cats use their tails for is communication in social situations, either from cat to cat or from cat to human, which of course, for them is just a bigger fellow cat.

Depending on the posture of their tail, cats can signal anxiety or agitation, aggression, confrontation or submission, happiness and playfulness, greeting or curiosity.

Other Uses

Apparently, cats can also use their tails to judge distances when on narrow pathways.

Some cat breeds even use their tails to keep themselves warm in cold climates. Who wouldn’t want a long puffy tail around when it’s freezing cold outside?

So no matter the situation, your little furry friend has a good use for his tail, from chasing that mouse around your house to rubbing it against you to show you signs of affection.


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